How does a tween process tragedy ? How should they ? Do they even notice the world around them beyond their Wii or Facebook or iPod’s ? As adults, we are horrified and in awe of the magnitude of it all… as we watch helplessly as the cable news world broadcasts 24/7 revealing image after image of near cataclysmic destruction.
As a parent I’m very concerned about the people of Japan… a tragic world event that has rocked us all by the power and ferocity of its impact as we see the effects sheer devastation from friday’s earthquake and resulting epic tsunami as it hurtled over the countryside. Shocking, mind-numbing videos of walls of water and towns simply wiped off the map.
It’s impossible to process with our adult minds, yet alone a growing preteen’s who is functioning only from a very sheltered and limited concept of the tragedy and brevity of life.
So in the midst of this terrible event… is there really a way technology can help them reach through the self-absorbed haze of adolescence and see the real world beyond the virtual ?
Yes, I believe there might be…
Surprisingly, the answer may be found to some degree in the technology we are so cautious to let them access. Facebook, Twitter and social media are always working to expand our kids minds and awareness beyond their bedrooms and pre-teen drama. It’s just usually in a “bad” way.
When I talked with my own kids about this tragedy, my son was very sober. He has a very close school friend who recently had to move to Tokyo, and the recent tragedy combined with my sons growing awareness of the reality of such tragedies (2010 Nashville floods) had begun to move him from the passive typical pre-teen to an alert and appropriately concerned young man. He is really connected to and anxious for his friends well – being. Not just his friend, but he’s aware that this tragic event really happened. That those people were really displaced or killed and it is not just a movie or a tv reality show that’s playing right now on the television…its life beyond U-Tube.
The power of connectivity through technology, allows all of us to be “personally” invested in the welfare of others. Regardless of how we connect, Facebook, Twitter or email…they all allow us to stay connected to our friends and family in ways we could have never anticipated and ( I believe) in doing so, technology has shown us Parents a potential “silver” lining to the online revolution of this generation.
My son is actually engaged, he is active in seeking out news on this tragedy. His friend is in the center of this catastrophic loss and he is very aware of how dangerous and serious this event is for the people and nation of Japan and beyond. His world view has been expanded and his compassion and awareness of the needs of others is at an all time high. That is a good thing. His world is expanding beyond his own cares and concerns and I am grateful for that.
So much so, that he commented to me last night… “Dad, some of the kids at school are complete idiots…they have no idea whats going on in Japan, and whats worse… they couldn’t care less because it doesn’t affect them in any way.” I have no doubt that’s true for some, but not all. I believe we have a golden opportunity in this disaster to gently re-direct our kids attention from themselves to others and to begin to consider what “they” might be able to do to help.
So, parents…before we completely remove all social media and technology from our pre-teens lives… let’s be careful to consider and “LOOK FOR” the potential positive benefits of its presence in our homes. As with all things… in moderation and with consideration for the content and priorities of real life in mind.
I’m not a huge advocate of technology as I’ve seen it negatively impact families and homes in very dangerous ways when out of balance, but I am cautiously optimistic on this particular facet of its existence. It could be a huge catalyst for growing our pre-teens awareness of the world beyond our borders and the need for increased compassion and sensitivity to those less fortunate.
Here’s to keeping on the road and in between the lines… and when you read this, please consider taking a moment to stop what your about and pray for the welfare and safety of those families and lives affected by the recent earthquake in Japan. If you’re a parent… go ahead and ask your kids to join with you when you do. It will show them your faith in action when facing tragedy and loss, a priceless lesson of hope and trust when life gets beyond anyone’s control.